Tui has seen an “enormous” 1,400% rise in holiday sickness claims from UK customers in the past two years, and is blacklisting those it believes to have committed fraud.
The revelations come as the UK’s largest operator backs Travel Weekly’s Fight Fake Claims campaign, launched today, which seeks to combat the rise in fraudulent gastric illness claims.
Nick Longman, UK managing director for Tui, which owns Thomson and all-inclusive brand First Choice, said: “This is clearly a massive issue for us – it’s a massive issue for the industry. We have seen an enormous 1,400% increase [in claims] in the past two years.
“It’s not something we could have anticipated. It’s been an absolute explosion.”
The percentage rise in claims at Tui UK is nearly three times that reported by Abta, which has reported a 500% rise in claims among members since 2013.
Thomas Cook and Jet2holidays, which have also backed our campaign, said their rises were closer to Abta’s figure.
Longman told Travel Weekly that Tui UK had opted to blacklist customers from booking with them again if the operator believed their claims to be false. It is also sending letters early in the claims process to warn customers that it would be they, not the claims management companies, committing fraud if their claim was disproved.
About 50% of letters in a recent trial have led to claims being dropped, and the operator has just sent letters to a further 100 claimants it believes to be playing the system.
“This [the letters] has given rise to a number of solicitors saying they have dropped their claims,” said Longman.
City of London Police, which investigates insurance fraud, has confirmed it is working with hotels and operators to bring prosecutions of holidaymakers this summer.